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Chinese Supercomputer Gets a Job Forecasting Smog

Chinese Supercomputer Gets a Job Forecasting Smog

Today in international tech news: China will use a supercomputer to track and predict smog patterns. Also: Nokia tries to pay its way out of a tax headache in India; China carried out cyberespionage against a handful of EU countries ahead of the G20; and The New York Times' chief technology officer chronicles his angst over obtaining secret docs from The Guardian.

By David Vranicar
12/10/13 9:44 AM PT

Scientists in China will use the country's Tianhe-1A supercomputer to forecast and analyze smog in major cities.

The Tianhe-1A will be used to create a simulation that will collate data from across more than 100 Chinese cities. Theoretically, this will enable scientists to predict the density of smog, how long it will linger, and where it might go next.

Last week, Shanghai recorded smog levels 20 times higher than the maximum for safe air. It is not clear whether or not that had anything to do with enlisting Tianhe-1A, but it is clear that China's air needs help.

The Tianhe-1A was ranked the fastest computer in the world in 2011. China's Tianhe-2 is currently regarded as the fastest computer in the world.

[Source: Xinhua via Tech In Asia]

Nokia Opens Wallet to Settle Tax Dispute

Finnish cellphone behemoth Nokia is expected to offer about US$400 million to India in a stab at resolving a tax issue in the country.

The tax dispute, months in the making, is reportedly a thorn in the side of Nokia's deal with Microsoft, which is set to close its purchase of Nokia's handset unit for more than $7 billion.

In September, Indian officials froze Nokia's assets in India as a form of collateral to ensure that the tab would be paid. Nokia hopes that Indian tax authorities will unfreeze the company's assets after the payoff.

Nokia has already paid India 85 million euros, or about $115 million, as part of this tax tiff.

[Source: The New York Times]

Report: China Hacked EU Ahead of G20

China conducted cyberespionage against five European foreign ministries ahead of the G20 summit held in September, according to security outfit FireEye.

The hackers reportedly wiggled into the ministries' networks via emails affixed with bunk files with deceptive titles, such as "US_military_option_in_Syria." (Syria, if you recall, was a focal point of that summit, which took place at the height of would-be military intervention.) When opened, the document loaded malicious code onto people's computers

FireEye says that its researchers monitored the Chinese computer server in late August, but lost access when the hackers jumped to another server just before the summit kicked off.

FireEye declined to say which nations were victimized, but confirmed they were all in the 28-nation European Union.

[Source: Reuters]

Angst at The New York Times Over Secret Files

Rajiv Pant, the chief technology officer at The New York Times, suspected that his life could be in danger for his role in disseminating information about government spy operations.

Pant, who oversaw the handoff of info between British newspaper The Guardian and The New York Times, told a recent AppSec USA cybersecurity conference that The Times "smuggled [the information] into the country, basically," adding that "it can get scary. I told myself ... I could be putting my life at risk."

In other disconcerting international snooping news, American and British intelligence operations have reportedly been spying on video game users throughout the world. The operations included sending undercover agents into virtual universes in games such as World of Warcraft.

[Sources: CNN; The Associated Press]


David Vranicar is a freelance journalist and author of The Lost Graduation: Stepping off campus and into a crisis. You can check out his ECT News archive here, and you can email him at david[dot]vranicar[at]newsroom[dot]ectnews[dot]com.


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